Great dancing, plenty of glitz but little heart and no subtlety.
It seems virtually impossible that the brilliant 2000 movie Billy Elliot, adapted into a highly acclaimed award-winning musical could become such an unmoving show.
But, despite some strong performances and the occasional – very occasional – touching moment, this touring production does little more than go through the motions.
The story of the motherless Geordie kid from a poor mining town, who dreams of being a ballet dancer, should tug at the heartstrings, particularly set against the backdrop of a bitter strike in Margaret Thatcher’s Britain of the 1980s.
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>Billy Elliott The Musical is based on the hit movie, and the Broadway stage version that ran from 2008 to 2012 was seen by 1.8 million people.
Billy Elliot The Musical
Broadway Across Canada
National Arts Centre Southam Hall
Reviewed Tuesday, Jan. 1
OTTAWA — The story of Billy Elliot should clutch your imagination and never let go.
After all, it’s about underdogs – and who doesn’t cheer for an underdog?- including young Billy who’s born into a coal mining family but who wants to be a ballet dancer, and miners who aspire to a better life but, trapped in the corrosive economic cauldron of Margaret Thatcher’s Britain, have no choice but to strike.
The multi award-winning musical also spotlights those ever-precious themes of individuality, persistence, family and community.
Just the kind of ingredients that you’d think would make your blood boil when the good guys are ill-treated and warm the cockles of your heart when they luck out.
What’s more, the touring production currently at the NAC features some solid performances including, on opening night, the talented Ben Cook as young, motherless Billy (Cook shares the role with three other actors) and Craig Bennett as Billy’s burly dad who’s initially horrified that his son wants to join the ballet but eventually comes round.
Also on board: Patti Perkins as Billy’s feisty, albeit caricatured, Grandma, Janet Dickinson as Mrs. Wilkinson, the rough-and-tumble dance teacher who spots and nurtures Billy’s potential, and a raft of other capable performers.
Heck, there’s even music by Elton John – although that doesn’t automatically make it memorable music – to accompany Lee Hall’s book and lyrics and Peter Darling’s choreography (Hall also wrote the screenplay for the original 2000 movie while Stephen Daldry directed both the movie and the musical).
Despite all this, the current production of the inspirational show is less than inspirational.
Read more: http://www.ottawacitizen.com/entertainment/Theatre+Review+Billy+Elliot+lukewarm+effort/7763446/story.html#ixzz2Gx6Nxswi